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Soon after the Black Lions Brigade was ambushed by Viet Cong fighters, Newsweek reported on what happened. Despite the Army's pressure on some of the survivors not to characterize the incident as an ambush, the magazine described the Viet Cong attack as "a complete surprise."


The War in Vietnam

Ambush of the Black Lions

...Maj. Gen. John Hay, commander of the First Division, promptly launched an operation code-named Shenandoah II. For weeks, his forces hunted for the Viet Cong [271st] regiment in the rain-soaked forests. Last week they found it and in the process stumbled into an ambush that ended as one of the bloodiest single battles of the year for U.S. troops.

The action began when 150 men of the First Division's Black Lions Brigade moved out of their base area last Tuesday morning in search of the Viet Cong. Under the command of Lt. Col. Terry Allen Jr., son of the famed Lt. Gen. Terry Allen who led the division through a series of successful campaigns in World War II, the slender U.S. column hacked its way, literally step by step, through the tangled underbrush. It was impossible to see more than 30 yards ahead...

When the Viet Cong struck... it came as a complete surprise. One instant, the metallic click of rifle bolts being cocked could be heard coming from the bush; the next, a savage hail of fire poured out of the jungle at the U.S. troops...

Charging toward the front, Medic Pfc. Thomas Hinger of Perry, Ga., heard cries of "medic" in all directions. He began to bandage the wounded. There were so many, he said later, that he felt almost helpless...

Besides Allen and [Maj. Donald W.] Holleder, who were regarded as among the most promising officers in the Army, 53 other Americans died in the hour-long fight... "This is the most I've ever lost," lamented General Hay, "and I am just sick about it."

"The War in Vietnam," Newsweek, October 30, 1967, p. 21.



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